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UK police pursue "chemical bomb" search after raid

Written by: Staff

LONDON, June 5 (Reuters) British police today said they were still searching for evidence of a chemical bomb in a house raided in the capital last week, but declined to comment on reports they acted on faulty intelligence.

Two brothers, aged 23 and 20, were arrested during the dawn raid last Friday when more than 250 police officers, some in chemical protection suits, stormed their house in east London.

One man was shot in the shoulder during the raid, one of the biggest since last July's suicide bombings in London.

Britain has been on high alert since the attacks when four British Islamists blew themselves up on underground trains and a bus, killing 52 commuters and injuring about 700.

Police sources said specific intelligence had suggested the house might have been used to make a toxic bomb for an attack in Britain. Lawyers for the men say they deny all accusations.

Newspaper reports today quoted unnamed police sources and counter-terrorism officials as saying doubt is growing about whether any evidence of chemical devices or bombs will be found.

''The search is ongoing at present,'' said a spokesman for London's Scotland Yard police headquarters. ''It's going to be very thorough and is likely to take a few days. We are not commenting on speculation about what has or hasn't been found.'' The arrested men -- who live in the ethnically mixed Forest Gate area of east London which has a sizeable Muslim population -- were being held at London's Paddington Green police station.

There were confused reports about how the 23-year-old suspect suffered a gunshot wound during the raid.

Both men's lawyers rejected reports he had been shot by his brother in a struggle with police, insisting an officer fired.

Some newspapers today quoted police sources as saying the gun may have been fired accidentally during a struggle.

Police shot dead an innocent Brazilian man, Jean Charles de Menezes, in the weeks after the July attacks. They wrongly identified Menezes, a 27-year-old electrician living in London, as a suicide bomber.

''If the intelligence was wrong, we possibly have egg on our faces. We have wasted a lot of time, put a lot of people out, one man has been shot and two have been arrested,'' the source was quoted as saying, a police source told the Daily Telegraph.


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